April 28, 2015

Book Review: Oden (The Invasion Trilogy, #3) by Jessica Frances

Oden (The Invasion Trilogy Book 3)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

This is me, on the last page of Oden, being torn between doing this…

and this…

So I settled with this one, 

I got emotional a lot reading Oden, both because the story just got way more intense here and because of the fact that I was so close to the conclusion of The Invasion Trilogy. I said it before that I wished this series was a tetralogy instead of trilogy so I could have more chance to see my favorite couple fighting for their love. As much as I loved seeing them having bunches of beautiful, happy moments peacefully, I just fell in love with the way they fought their way through a lot of awful times relentlessly without ever backing down for once only to prove that their love always remained undamaged in the end.
I lost count of how many times I cried only to feel it dried itself and flowed again minutes later. In this book three, Ms. Frances ‘played’ in a whole deeper level of intensity of every aspect: drama, action, romance, and thrill. There were far worse danger, torture, loss, physical fight, mental breakdown, and internal issue happened to each characters. Mattie and Marduke received the worst test among the others. Even their arguments which never became a real further issue between them, it slowly shaped into trust issue this time.
After we were brought into a chaos situation while on Earth, then to a strange planet Roth filled with monsters combined with fire attack, it was Oden where the final adventure took place. Oden, as Marduke’s home-planet, were in no different state than the other planet under their possession. War happened endlessly, death could be seen just everywhere. Both humans and aliens were fighting for their life against the seemingly merciless evil power.
While both Earth and Roth were about survival, Oden was about fighting to the very last drop of blood to get every stolen thing back. I was so damn speechless at Mattie’s braveness. She’s the most kick-ass heroine I’ve ever found in a book. Her heroism was unquestionable. She was hurt mentally and physically worse than any other character, over and over, yet still managed to overlook her own wounds to try her best helping the others. My heart broke for her and Marduke thousand times. Saying they both were so strong was understatement.
If in Roth Marduke seemed to start picking a side of where he stood between Mattie and his people, he later confirmed his decision firmly here. Not only he ‘touched’ me by always putting Mattie as his top priority, but he also didn’t hesitate to fight Ival on Mattie’s behalf ―which he almost never did before. It made me so glad knowing in the end there was nothing Marduke feared anymore, not his brother, not even the baggage of keeping family’s trait looking down to human race. He even surprised me by ―not once, but many times of― confronting Ival about him and the rest of their people having no emotional feeling.
“Humans are too emotional. We aren’t like them, Marduke. Whatever… you’re feeling for the human, it’s not normal.”

“Just because we’ve been taught not to feel love our whole lives, doesn’t mean we’re not capable of it.”

(Chapter V, Oden)
It was so funny sometimes how sarcastic Ival to Marduke and Mattie. It cracked me a lot how Ival pointed out Mattie and Marduke’s relationship…
“You two are repulsive. You,” he points his finger at Mattie, “don’t speak to someone of Marduke’s… standing like that. And you,” now his attention changes to me, “should demand more respect. Why you… love a woman who treats you like garbage is beyond me.”
(Chapter II, Oden)
Lololol! Someone sounds bitter!

Marduke slowly showed a great understanding about human’s feeling by paying attention closely to Mattie’s behavior. It was a really huge step and very important progress in Marduke’s change of state from apathetic alien to alien with feelings like human. Oh God, I just loved loved loved this couple so damn much!
“You’re too forgiving. Why don’t you hate me?” I whisper, afraid to voice my question any louder in case it jolts something inside her and she realises she does hate me. I would deserve that, but I couldn’t live with it.
“Because I love you and I know you are kind and brave. You’re a good man, no matter your species or what your family is like.”

“I don’t deserve you,” I admit, knowing that is true more than ever. 
“Well, too bad because you’re stuck with me.” She smiles and then leans in to kiss me.

(Marduke; Chapter II, Oden)

That was one of many reasons Ms. Frances became my favorite author. She paid attention to everything on her books. Like… every single thing. She didn’t just focus on building the story plot, she concentrated on advancements in every aspect as well, such as the changes within the characters. She took progressive approach and slowly built them up to rational conclusions.
And HOLY GOD the ending!!!!
I loved it I loved it I LOVED IT!
Ms. Frances opted for a slow building-up ending. It was a happy one, don’t worry, but she led us around the phase of acceptance first before getting us there. It was such a painful moment trying to move on, accepting every loss, accepting the fact that so many happiness had been taken away forcefully, but in the end they realized that to win was not not losing any during the war but losing everything yet still working out a good life afterward.
‘My future with Mattie looks bright, and that is more than I could ever ask for. Everything is going to work out for us. As long as we have each other, we can face anything and survive it.’
(Marduke; Chapter XVII, Oden)
It felt bittersweet to close the last page of Oden. The Invasion Trilogy is the best fantasy trilogy I’ve ever read my whole life. This one is perfection. Every scene is vivid picture in my mind until now. I personally think everything in Earth, Roth, and Oden are materials worth to be made into movies because just by reading them I could feel such real feeling of suspenseful, scared, grief, and so on. Imagine what it’d feel like seeing them as moving-images. Jessica Frances might be a new author for me but she quickly becomes my best favorite author. I wish to read more sci-fi books from her in the future…
Ahh… how to end this without igniting melancholic situation? LOL!
Read this trilogy, people! Trust me: you don’t want to skip this trilogy. I’m serious, really. I’m not going to say anything anymore.
Just read the book and you can thank me later.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

April 27, 2015

ARC Review: Five Wounds by Katharine Edgar

Five Wounds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

Historical fiction is a genre that takes a special place in my heart. Reading a historical fiction for me is like ‘traveling’ with a time warp all the way to a whole different dimension in the past. Getting to know the life of people in places that used to exist somewhere around us ―or might be just right where we are right now― centuries ago through a story, gives me wonderful experiences that I could never get from another genre. I always loved history when I was still attending school. While reading historical literature is focusing on certain important events, historical fiction book gives more casual description about people living at the time, how they talked, how they interacted and behave among a strict conventional society. It’s like studying in a fun way, as long as we understand the line between real events and the fictional ones.
Five Wounds took place during Tudor era and was told with Pilgrimage of Grace as the background event. I know almost nothing about both things. That made me more excited to read the book because I’d get to add something more to my knowledge about England history after I finished it. And I did!

Nan Ellerton was the daughter of Sir Thomas. Unlike her sister, May, who seemed to always please their father just by being born pretty, Nan was always the black sheep in her family. She wasn’t as pretty as her sister but at least she was the brighter one. But that too, no longer mattered since the accident 10 years ago that brought shame to her family and made her forever remembered as a disgrace in their family history. She was sent to the convent ever since until she was not able to see her mother’s face for the last time. Once she’s back home, Nan lived under worse treatment from her father. Good thing she still had her sister and her grandmother who could make her life more bearable.
If that hadn’t enough as a life test for Nan, now she was faced with the worst one. One fine afternoon turned into a nightmare when her father said she was to betroth to a baron from the next dale named Lord Middleham. An older ―way much older than her 15 years old age― and had-married-three-times Lord Middleham. She had no other choice but to obey the arranged-marriage because of two things. First, if she didn’t make it, it’d be May who’d take her place at betrothal. May herself had betrothed to her sweetheart so there was no way Nan would have a heart to do that to her. Second, it would do good to erase her dark history as a disgrace if she married to a baron.

Nan dreaded her future where she kept imagining would be more awful than her life now. She would live in a strange castle, married to an older man with unknown personality, and there would be no May or her grandma to make everything bearable. What she didn’t expect was for her life line to changed 180 degrees as the rising made a move against King Henry VIII’s break with Catholic church in 1534. Not only she was tangled in sinful feeling with Middleham’s son, Francis, but she also had to dodge around from the anti-rebellion as the result of her fearless support to the rebels. She met a lot of people during the process including a blacksmith with interesting personality. In a flash, Nan found her life turned upside-down as her own belief wavered by the heart-wrenching violence happened around her.

Ms. Edgard as the author did a great job with the vivid details and all. Not only she had an excellent understanding about this historical event, she also succeeded in describing people’s daily life during Tudor era aside the rebellion and the situation of the dale very well. As people like me who knew nothing about the historical event, this was really helpful. Not only did she ‘play’ with rich details of the event, she also used lots of foreign terms along with conventional conversations ancient-like and she paired them all out there in a way that was easy to digest without I even needed to find the meaning of each terms. Like I said, this was such a great experience of studying history in a fun way. Ms. Edgard provided historical note in the end stating the clear line between reality and fictional ones from the book so I could easily identify them.
All the fictional characters on the book had subtle characteristics each except the main character, Nan, who was described as one realistic girl existed at the time. Unlike her sister, she’d tasted the bitter parts of life ever since she was 5. Nan seemed having a strong character at first. I was mesmerized by her determination in joining the rising. How she always based her demeanor on what she believed was true under her religious view until myriad of awful things taking turns coming to her life making everything she’d been believed faltered away. Sometimes I forgot that she’s only 15.
Lord Middleham and Francis both had difficult characteristics to read. I found myself feeling cautious at each of them back and forth. And close to the end, things unraveled in a surprising way. And there was also another character that started to get involved actively halfway through the book but apparently held on an important role for the ending. Ms. Edgard didn’t provide enough description to each character’s personality, instead we were led to judge them on our own based on the way they interacted with each other and how they talked to Nan as the narrator of the story.
I was totally immersed into the story. The vivid description of the situation at the time was enough to convince me that I was indeed ‘travelling’ with time warp all the way into Tudor England. Despite how wrong Nan had strayed from her original belief, I ached for her. She was faced with lots of misery ever since she was still an innocent kid. Sent away from home caused her to lack of motherly love. Then her father forced her to marry someone she didn’t love. And in the end the rising happened, followed by merciless punishment after the failure act of rebellion. I personally thought it was about time Nan snapped off. After all she was only 15 turning 16.
That was why I was so glad with how Ms. Edgard wrapped the story up. Nan deserved a happy ending for her long excruciating life on the past 10 years. Even though it was only a glimpse, I loved to believe that happiness would stay on Nan’s path from there onward.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I started writing this review still with internal debate happening in my mind even more furiously. A part of me wanted so badly for this book to be added to the ever-after list but another part kept reminding me some little flaws existed within the book.
The book was gripping from the very beginning!
It started really well with very good casual introduction scene that successfully portrayed both characterizations of the character and preamble of soon-to-be main issue. I always loved a book with such opening! The kind that was delivered through a casual daily scene easily yet succeeded to engross readers further into the book.

Ohmygoodness, I loveeeeeeed Ms. West for introducing us to character Caymen. She’s probably, heck, she IS my best favorite heroine. I could so relate to her. All the sarcasm that came out of her mouth and those that she kept as inner thoughts were adorable. Well, maybe it’s kind of weird to put ‘sarcasm’ and ‘adorable’ on the same sentence but I just had no idea how to put it out. Caymen was a loyal master of sarcasm. She made witty sarcasms every day which actually the kinds that did not mostly sound bitter. Hers sounded funny and smart and made me think that Caymen was a bright girl. Unlike most people who threw out their sarcasms because of the feeling that they constantly being failed by universe, it seemed like sarcasm was always part of Caymen. She carried this side of her as a habit and a bit like entertainment. It was like a trademark of her. I had no idea how many times I laughed because of Caymen and her notable sarcasm. I found that the character Caymen almost had no flaws. Despite the sarcasm that seemingly stuck with her, Caymen was actually pretty mature at dealing with her family issues for someone her age. Her realization of having less than most people was heartbreaking. I shed my first tears for the book there. Then she decided to take few years off before starting college next year to help her mom. And it was not under her mom’s consent. It was her own decision.

When Caymen met Xander for the first time, she bravely threw her witty sarcasm on him that day. I loved to think that this might be one of the main reasons he fell for her. Well, it surely was, if I was a boy and met someone like Caymen. I had two perspective of seeing their love building up. First from Caymen’s angle where I’d say their love started steady and filled by push-and-pull thread before getting on the now. The second one was from Xander’s angle where I’d say their love was insta-love and the one that happened just because they happened to be at the same time in the same place. No offense, I loved Xander. He’s cool, charming, understanding, and a laid-back rich boy. At another chance, I might just fall in love so hard with him. But here, I didn’t feel any exciting feeling at his presence on the book. I mean, I was cool with him but that’s all. He didn’t sweep me off my feet. Even though Ms. West wrote their every moment together bundled tightly with chemistry veil, I had this constant doubt whether Xander’s feeling for Caymen was genuine. I’m not saying that Xander was up to no good, but I just felt that if Xander met some other girls that afternoon in the first place, he would feel just the same to them. Xander was that rich boy with all positive vibes radiating from him. This was disturbing for me because maybe, just maybe, that he loved Caymen because he was a rich boy with kind heart rather than he loved Caymen because OF her. Hopefully it’s just me because I so want Caymen to get her sweet happy ending.
There were a lot of loveable things on the book. I liked all the side-characters on this book because Ms. West put them out there in a way that made them easy to like, especially Skye, Caymen’s best friend with her eccentric boyfriend. I also loved the idea of ‘career day’ that was used as the gradual process of Caymen and Xander being closer. It was kind of cute!
But then here comes my biggest issue with this book that made me go debating-internally mode…
I read Ms. West’s book before. Pivot Point. While I enjoyed the book so much, I had an issue with it that actually ‘rhymed’ with The Distance between Us. Ms. West has a beautiful writing style. It’s fun, adorable, cute, and enjoyable. She starts a story in a gripping manner, hooking up every reader’s hearts during the process, but when it comes to the story wrap-up she seems a bit rush, thus, creating an abrupt ending with a ‘left-unfinished’ and ‘much-more-unexplored’ vibes. I experienced it during Pivot Point. And now again in this book.
It’s really unfortunate and made me go roaring in frustration because I was hoping a more wrapping end. Yes it is an HEA and I am so darn happy for Caymen to get every issue unraveled and solved but it seems off that I’m scared it’s a ‘labile’ HEA. The issue of Caymen’s mom, Susan, was something big and had lasted for years. It was supposedly resolved in a more ‘serious’ way. It was so off, a bit like in a rush, and unreal.
The Distance between Us is a very enjoyable light read. I laughed (a lot), my eyes stung several times, and cried a bit while reading this. If only this book was wrapped up in a better way, I was willing to overlook my own doubt issue with Xander and give this book a solid five stars.
But it’s not… so, I planned to go with 3.5 stars.
But then Caymen’s awesomeness flashed in my mind…
So I settled with 4 stars, in the end :)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

April 21, 2015

Book Review: Charade (Sabby Carlyle #1) by Kristy Douglas

Charade (Sabby Carlyle book #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!

I was intrigued by the pretty cover and interesting premise. And the author mentioning there would be a bit of romance involved, so here I am! :)
Charade started casually at first. The main female character was introduced in ease over a humorous situation. If I missed the blurb, I’d no doubt think this book was a funny contemporary read. Then the first twist came, and from there the tension gradually stirred up.

As the only heir of Carlyle empire, Sabine Elise Carlyle was not the typical of spoiled girl who’s living by flashing her last name. She had her own passion in acting field. That’s what brought her out of her grandma’s apartment in Upper East Side where she’d been living for fifteen years. Life treated her good but it seemed there was a dent in her relationship with her grandma. She loved her grandma, really, but ever since she went to college two years ago, their bound was starting to get loose. Busy with her own world, she often ignored her call, moreover visited her on the weekend. So when Sabby once again didn’t pick up her grandma’s call that one night, she was sure the guilty feeling would never leave her side as the call was the last one she would ever received from her. 

Finding out her grandma’s being murdered, Sabby was determined to find the killer. She might have no experience whatsoever in dealing with this kind of issue. But the guilt of leaving her grandma unaccompanied that night and the determination to bring justice for her grandma, made her ready to take just every dangerous step in the process.

There came Agent Nathan from FBI who took part in the investigation of her grandma’s case. Sabby found comfort just from his existence. And that was what Nathan did; he tried to put her on ease as he worked hard to solve the case at the same time. But Sabby wanted more than just a comfort feeling, she wanted real answer for her never-ending question: who killed her grandma? So when a mysterious man named Nightengale came to her life out of nowhere to help her find the culprit, Sabby didn’t think twice to team up with him. 
Sabby was aware that she put her life on danger by involving herself in this case, but she had no idea that she was surrounded by people with lots of hidden dark facts. What would happen when all of the things get unraveled? Would she be in more danger? Or maybe it would ease her way to finish the mission?

For a mystery read, Ms. Douglas succeeded in building up the tension and leading the readers into a deep curiosity. The tense feeling of guessing this and that and suspecting every character were such an interesting experience for me. I remembered the day when I loved curling up with Agatha Christie’s books and doing a mental-guessing while reading. Charade came with a lot of twist that made it actually kind of difficult to reckon who’s the culprit. Several times I found myself suspecting wrong character. It’s kind of frustrating yet exciting as well.
From the well-thought scenes and careful choosing of words, we could easily say that the author had an excellent understanding of this topic. I loved that she presented all the ‘hows’ out there for readers to know. It made the book rich of details. Thus, strengthened the plot and set it a far from being called as ‘immature’ story. For me, it felt like watching Ocean Eleven movie.
What I found lacking was somehow lying on the character Sabby. I actually liked her personality shown during introduction. She was a good down-to-earth rich girl with a passion in acting. She also had this comical side as well, making her a good candidate of favorite heroine. But then after her grandma accident, she decided to take an action to bring justice for her family. It might seem as a bravery act for some, but for me it was kind of reckless of her and somehow ruined her character. I saw Sabby as a thoughtful and considerate girl, and her taking a heroic act like that was out of character.
And there were two male characters taking parts in her life, Nathan and Nightengale. I wouldn’t call their relationship as a love triangle issue because clearly none of them was in a relationship with each other. I was expecting Sabby would build some real feeling to just one particular man. But once again, I was disappointed with her lack of sensitivity towards her own feeling. Actually, I didn’t see any chemistry built up between Sabby and Nathan nor Sabby and Nightengale. Even though along the way Sabby became closer with the latter, still their togetherness was happened under an incidental circumstance. It’s not surprising though, because after all, the author underlined that this was a mystery/thriller book. But when it was said that there’d be romance involved, I half-expected that it would take a part in making a twist in the story (after all both men were actively involved in the main issue) but this one was lacking of chemistry, hardly romantic, and had a sense of instant love. I am a romance lover so when I’m faced with this situation, I think it’s best to leave out the romance part and just focusing on the mystery part. Or if the romance is really needed to be present, then their chemistry needs to be dwelled on deeper.
And a bit complaint about the ending, as much as I enjoyed the tension and thrill in every chapter, the ending was a bit off sadly. I suspected that maybe it’s because there’ll be a second installment of the book. Clearly it’s not possible to put things down like that (would be unprofessional in FBI side, my opinion…).
I wanted to give 5 stars but I settled with 4 because of my issue with the romance part. But overall, Charade with no doubt could satisfy your thirst of good mystery-solving and thriller read with rich details. Recommended to those who love mystery book!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

April 19, 2015

Book Review: Roth (The Invasion Trilogy, #2) by Jessica Frances

Roth (The Invasion Trilogy Book 2)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Get a copy here!
“I want to go home, Marduke. I want to go to Earth. Can you promise me that?”
(Mattie; Chapter V, Roth)
I’m always excited and anxious for every sequel whose first books I enjoyed a bit too much. Excited for what kind of exhilaration the 2nd book would bring. Anxious to find out whether the 2nd book would give me the same feeling I had while reading the first one.
Today, I proudly confirmed that Roth has gracefully topped ALL my expectation as the second book of Invasion Trilogy!
GOD! I had a great time with the first book. Earth had successfully taken me into a mind-blowing roller-coaster ride and in the end it left me speechless and craving for more. But ROTH, people, ROTH is marvelous! It’s amazing! It’s everything I’ve never read! It… blew my mind! Every part of it!

Just like the first book, Roth was told in alternating POV of Mattie and Marduke. In this book, the story was placed on Roth ―the planet under Oden’s possession― where Mattie was sent to after the chaos happened back on Earth as the arrival of Ival, Marduke’s evil brother. Ms. Frances once again proved her astounding ability to ‘live out’ her imagination into a very vivid and graphic story. It felt almost real! It’s like watching a movie, a real action and fantasy movie blended into one where the scenes were ready to jump out of the screen any minute! She’d succeeded in making me amaze with the invasion on Earth. Now, I was again mesmerized of everything she brought out in this book. Seriously this book made me wants to fly all the way to Aussie to knock on Ms. Frances’ front door and ask,
“How did you come up with all of these things?” or maybe something like,
“How could you even do that without twisting the cells of your brain in the process?”
Not only she successfully visualized what was Roth like (from the two suns until the unnatural green forest), but she also threw in new mysterious creatures aside of the alien to the story (something with claws and uncontrollably wild with black gushes oozing from its wound and ―okay I’m sorry I’ll stop here). And as usual, she did it very well. It was very graphic and easily let out scary vibes to the readers.
This book had a lot of twist and I totally admitted I could not even guess a single thing out of every scene on the book. It’s totally unpredictable I felt like don’t even want to blink my eyes in case I missed something in those milliseconds!
Roth is a perfect combination of thrilling action, mind-blowing discoveries, lots of drama, and heart-ripping romance wrapped up in an epic never-ending battle. Here, Mattie and Marduke once again reminded me of why I fell in love with this couple on the first place.
‘I love that she confuses me. I love that she is willing to argue for what she believes in, and that she cares for her people. Every touch, every kiss, and every word she ever spoke to me feels important. Humans speak of love and soul mates. We might not have such a thing on Oden, but I fully believe that Mattie is my other half.’
(Marduke; Chapter II, Roth)
I loved how strong and determined Mattie while Marduke was so understanding yet still held a high respect for his family back in Oden. In Roth, they still appeared with the same strong characters but at the same time I could sense some changes in them as they were put in a whole new circumstance that might tie or break them. Yes, they still argued a lot here but somehow I sensed that they acted more mature and less difficult than before.
God, I loved it so much that even when they argued, they still cared for each other deeply. Both of them were willing to put their ego aside to listen to each other’s demands. Both of them were willing to put themselves on each other’s shoes in order to feel what they truly felt. Both of them were more open with their feelings and never even hesitated to sacrifice their lives for each other. When it’s common for people to break down and break apart when put in their hardest situation, Mattie and Marduke proved the old saying that “love will conquer all”. Their love grew even stronger and never wavered even in the middle of worst pandemonium ever happened in the whole universe.
‘Even when she’s not with me, she’s managing to save me.’
(Marduke; Chapter XIX, Roth)
This book also touched more issue about the comparison of family life between humans and aliens. I liked it when Marduke intended to watch carefully of how Mattie felt about her family. How alien, like Marduke, was described indifferent towards their family but not because they’re heartless, more like because they didn’t understand emotional feeling. This was described very well that the readers could definitely see their differences by knowing every detail. Ms. Frances actually dealt with more details like this to give a clear picture of the life outside the Earth. And she succeeded in all of that.
Ms. Frances’ writing style is so unique! I loooove it when she sometimes put such ‘teasing sentences’ in the end of chapter. It’s like a page-turner button for me, actually. And oh! even if this book contained a lot more actions with lots of awful situation, Ms. Frances started to do something fresh here. When I thought that I would certainly cried or most likely being tensed all the time while reading the book, she managed to slip some jokes and silly or sarcastic thoughts in the mid of serious situations making me actually crack ―loudly at that― several times. It helped lighten up the tension a bit. My only complaint, though, a lot of villains made appearance here, made me kind of hopeless sometimes. But good news, there will be a lot of unexpected turn of events that would make you believe there’s still hope somewhere out there. Sadly, Lisa and Hanks story hasn’t make any progress here, so I’m expecting a lot in the last installment!
With 208 pages, Roth succeeded in giving me a mind-boggling experience that I’m sure will stay in my mind for a very long time. In fact, I kind of wish this is a part of tetralogy instead of trilogy… but, it’s not so yeah… *crying inside*
‘This is not a war I plan on losing. We will win.’
(Marduke; Chapter XIX, Roth)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

April 17, 2015

Book Review: The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

The Longest Ride
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

One, two, three...

Everyone, raise and clap!

“If there is a heaven, we will find each other again, for there is no heaven without you.”
(Ira Levinson; Ch. XXX, The Longest Ride)
Excuse me while I do this…

There are times when I don’t know what to put on my review because I’m afraid that my lame words would ruin the perfectness of the book. Today is one of them. Nicholas Sparks is by all odds my favorite author forever. Even though I hated him most of the time for the ‘heartless’ ending on several of his books, I could never deny my undying love for his every epic writing. No need to say more about him because we all know very well that Nicholas Sparks and love story have a really tight bound that it’s impossible sometimes to talk about romance without mentioning his name.
I watched the trailer of The Longest Ride movie and had a moment of ‘hysterically fangirling’ for a couple of good minutes (over the guy who plays Luke) before I determined to read the book first before heading to the cinema to watch it. I was anxious as hell to read it at first as I was scared that Mr. Sparks would break my heart into pieces again through this book. But holy God, this is seriously, once again, SERIOUSLY the most beautiful romance book I’ve ever read in the entire 22 years of my life.
The Longest Ride reminded me why I fell in love with all Nicholas Sparks’ books in the first place. As the cover said, featuring two couples, two love stories bounded in one epic tale, this book had a perfectly-built plot, lots of gasping-for-air circumstances, tons of heart-melting moments, and a couple of shocking-to-the-bone scenes. At first I thought I’d be drown to Luke and Sophia’s story more but turned out Ira and Ruth’s were so damn beautiful as well, even more beautiful in fact. Each couple had their own charms, each stories had their own beautifulness, and fate threaded them in a most astonishing way that made the readers believed that there was a continuance there.
“I understand that love and tragedy go hand in hand, for there can’t be one without the other, but nonetheless I find myself wondering whether the trade-off is fair.”
(Ira Levinson; Ch. XVII, The Longest Ride)
During my reading the book, my heart broke and crushed in pieces thousand times (especially when reading Ira and Ruth’s part) then healed itself only to be wrecked in millions even more tiny pieces.

I’m always a believer of everlasting love, so reading Ira and Ruth’s story just made me believe in more of those. I loved it so much the way Mr. Sparks delivered their story through reminiscent conversations of Ruth and Ira. Even after years, the way they talked about it was thick with sincere love and true affection between them both. God knows how much I want that kind of love in my life…
“You kissed me, yes, but it was not just good night. Even then, I could feel the promise in it, the promise that you would kiss me just like that, forever.”
(Ruth Levinson; Ch. V, The Longest Ride)
You got me, Ruth...
“If we’d never met, I think I would have known that my life wasn’t complete. And I would have wandered the world in search of you, even if I didn’t know who I was looking for.”
(Ira Levinson; Ch. XXVIII, The Longest Ride)


While Mr. Sparks successfully drowned me in the sea of love and tears, he also successfully surprised me again and again near the ending. I thought I somehow figured it out. Yes, the ending was just like what I guessed from the beginning, but NEVER ONCE, really, NEVER ONCE I THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPENED THAT WAY. I literally dropped my jaw and had a trouble putting it back up before closing my reader for a while to distract my thought.
I had no complaints whatsoever about this book.
The Longest Ride is perfection.
Beau ideal.
The best masterpiece of Nicholas Sparks.
If people ask me what book romance to read, I will always recommend The Longest Ride for them to read before listing the other favorites of mine.
Now, with no doubt, I’ll go watch the movie. Hopefully it’ll be as beautiful as the book. After all, all Nicholas Sparks’ did ;)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

April 15, 2015

Book Review: When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach #11) by Abbi Glines

When I'm Gone (Rosemary Beach #11)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Get a copy here!

BIG YAY for another amazing book from my favorite ever after romance series: Rosemary Beach!

We read bit and pieces about Mase Colt Manning during Harlow’s story on Take A Chance and ever since we always dreamed of him having his own book one day. Abbi Glines, being my favorite awesome author and all, made it come true. I read the excerpt months ago and instantly hooked with the newcomer heroine, Reese. I knew that I’d love her…

Edited by me ;)
Growing up in an abusive environment, Reese Ellis had known all her life that men and trust did not work on the same frame. They were the perfect picture of undeserving of loyalty and untrustworthy creatures. Men always looked at women no more than their outward appearance. Her step father taught her that. Guys from school taught her that. People around her had made sure that nothing of her worth loving aside her naturally gorgeous body. The fact that she was suffering an undiagnosed learning disorder only added another dark layer to her pile of insecurities. That’s why even if she finally escaped the awful past behind, Reese was still being haunted by uncontrollable insecure feeling everywhere she went. But Rosemary Beach, where she chose to rebuild her life, offered a new experience and comfort she’d never felt. Not only she was able to get a job that paid her well to secure the rent and bills, she also managed to make a best friend ―which was a guy, there. Reese never thought she would meet the day when men creatures finally made use of the hearts they had inside. Well, in this new place her perspective changed 180 degrees along with the appearance of a gentle cowboy from Texas.
When Mase Manning woke up to the horrifying singing, he wanted no more than giving a hard time to whoever ruined his day that morning. Instead, he was faced with a housemaid whose face was innocent yet had the most wonderful body a woman could ever ask. The girl had his mind melted and his body frozen on the spot. On their second encounter, he found her in a problem yet still managed to hold on tight on her responsibility to the job. That moment, Mase realized that Reese was more than just a gorgeous lady in the outside. That time, he fully recognized honesty and purity in Reese’s eyes the same time he caught fear there as well. For the first time in his life, he wanted nothing more than fix anything that went wrong in Reese’s world. Even when Reese tried hard to show her independency, Mase still wanted her to let him embrace her with his protectiveness.

When the thing from her past was slowly showing in front of Mase, Reese couldn’t help but feeling dreadful that Mase would act just like any other men: leaving her. Moreover if Mase found out the ugly scar and the ever-haunting insecurities behind her outward beauty, would Mase still want her? Would Mase still be willing to go back and forth to Texas and Rosemary Beach for her? She didn’t know that. What she did know was when he’s gone, she longed him to come back soon to her.

When I’m Gone was quick to be my favorite of the series, the second top after Rush and Blaire’s story. As always, Abbi wrote a heart-melting romance with a spark of heart-clenching background story to the characters. The reason I fell in love with this story lied on the characters. Mase was truly a gentleman. Never once he judged Reese for her lacking ever since he first found out about it. He breathed loyalty and sincerity when it came to his beloved one. Just like the character Grant, he’s a fixer to the bone. He saw a problem and went all out to fix it until it’s totally wrapped up neatly without a trace.

Edited by me ;)
Compared to the other heroines in Rosemary Beach series, my soft spot went right straight to Reese. She had the sorriest past among the others yet her heart remained innocent. Her strong insecure feeling reminded me of Jesse from Sea Breeze series.
I loved loved loved this couple. Reese might be one insecure girl but she always tried to make her way to go independent whenever she could. She didn’t just let people taking care of her. Meeting Mase had brought out the fighting sense inside her and she actually looked awesome like that. And as for Mase, he was a gentleman and a rationalist at the same time. He loved Reese fiercely but not blindly. It’s really cool of him, I think.

Edited by me ;)
I finished this book in one sitting in a record time because I was just so excited ever since the day the cover was revealed. Loved it seeing the other Rosemary Beach couples living their good life. Ah, I kind of missed them all…
Well, despite every lovely thing about this book, Abbi still managed to slip some upsetting Nan scenes. God, I hate her so much I have no idea if I’m going to love her story when she’s gonna have her own book one day. But I loved Mase’s rant here. Hopefully it would knock some sense to her bitchy mind… Oh but Abbi always has this magic trick of turning a hateful character into a lovable one (She proved it through Jesse on Sea Breeze series) so yeah.
And OH DO NOT get me started with the ending!

Edited by me ;)
I cried the moment Reese showed her intention of fight for Mase innocently. It’s so touching I loved them so much! It seemed like Abbi’s fave style nowadays to wreck the readers’ minds with a name (God, she did it on You Were Mine!! asdhfsafhkl!!). The last one sentence made a perfect cliffhanger that made the long-wait for When You’re Back even harder. Read this book people and just don’t try to skip into the last page, okay? *wink*

p.s. Rush is still my favorite! This is why... 

Edited by me ;)

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: A Simple Life by Desi Anwar

A Simple Life
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

My sister sent this book to me last week. She insisted that I read this book right away with the other self-help reads and I wondered if she saw me as a person who’s in need of urgent help. Seriously, it’s not that I don’t like to read self-help or what. But whenever I go to a bookshop, it’s surely not a self-help shelves that I go straight too. Or when I browse for a new book on Amazon, surely it’s not a self-help related book that I put into my cart. But I don’t mind reading one as an assignment from school. So when my sister out of sudden ‘shoved’ this book to my reading list, I was a bit surprised but agreed to read it anyway.
I heard about Desi Anwar a lot before. In my eyes, she was a really successful journalist. I watched her Face 2 Face program every week attentively because she always managed to awe me with the great leaders she’d got to interview. So, I was excited to read her thoughts in a form of book.

Source: Me
(I never really wore glasses to read but this time I do. Oh you know, to get the 'feels'..)
Like the title, Desi wrote about how to lead a simple life in a world full of complex issues. I half expected it would be a cliché self-help read at first. What I did not expect was to find a really enjoyable inspiring read with lots of funny anecdotes. She picked up several simple things from our daily activities to be the topic for every chapter such as gardening, taking a walk, pets, and so on. The way she related every topic to her own experiences and in the end concluded it in a simple but meaningful life lesson was interesting. It helped that she had a funny way to deliver it into words. How when she wrote about her experience as this elementary school kid, she described it vividly along with how she felt that day. It was as if we were brought to the moment and seeing this little girl sulking over a chocolate bar. Years later this little girl, all grown-up, realized the exact meaning behind the memory and presented it here with her mature opinion to make a great closing statement for readers to think about.
Almost every chapter is my favorite but I love ‘Moving On’ best. There’s a line that I highlighted and etched in my mind. It might be a cliché saying for some people, but I found it slipping on my sleeves and slowly crept its way to my brain.
‘If, she said, after you did your best but still can’t get the result you want, then by all means, just change your mind about it. Who says you have to have it just because you want it? There are many other things that you can do as long as you open yourself up to other possibilities.’
(Moving On, p. 95-98; A Simple Life)
I just failed to accomplish something last year and until now it’s still hard for me to push the memory away from my head. Reading this, I could literally hear a voice in my head yelling the underlined sentence above over and over again. I found myself nodding my head and my heart practically made it my new mantra to move on.
This book contained a lot of trivia and useful advices. Little things that we often ignored in life, Desi brought it up and made us see them from different angle and perspective. Thus, letting us to consider rethinking our way of seeing things before making a statement about them. Oh, and I liked what she said about reading. I often read the definition of reading by lots of famous people or authors yet I found hers perfectly suit my thought!
‘The act of reading is at once solitary and yet far from lonely. A simple act that opens our mind up to complexities and unlimited possibilities; a stillness and takes us on journeys beyond our imagination.’
(The Joys of Reading, p. 92; A Simple Life)
Reading this would make you realize that life is simple, as long as you know how to exactly lead it that way. Changing your perspectives, learning from the past experiences, paying attention to little things, these very simple thing are small examples of how to do it. I read this book on my weekend, after-rain, and I found it really comforting and relaxing to read it that way. Sitting in the living room with window open overlooked the small terrace outside, the trees still dripping waters from the rain, and the breeze caressed my face slowly but steadily. This book in my lap and I felt real grateful for such a small gesture.
Read this, people, so you can share the relief I felt after reading this. It’s amazing, really.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Mini Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Life on The Refrigerator Door (Kehidupan di Pintu Kulkas)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

I remember the day I found this book on my desk after I came back from school. The second I laid my eyes on it, I instantly fell in love with its cover and the intriguing title. Even 6 years later, I still remember my feeling that time when I read the book. I remember being frustrated at the mom. I remember seeing Claire at first as this typical teenager at age 15 where being selfish and self-centered was actually a cool thing to do. But then I also remember witnessing how Claire slowly grew mature month by month in taking care of household chores with an absentee mother who’s clearly hiding something. In the end, I remember feeling ache for both Claire and her mother. Claire for being hit by a shocking confession from her mom and was left with no choice but growing a mature demeanor. Her mom for struggling so hard to hide her illness from her only child because she did not want to make her worry and sad, but she just ended up hurting her in the end. I remember thinking how scary it was to lack of communication between parents and their kids. I remember at the age 16 that time, I panicked after reading the book and frantically searched for my mom and giving her a big hug tightly for minutes while she was all clueless as she just sat on the next room the entire time I read.
I remember crying twice that day. First, when Claire found out the truth behind her mom’s real circumstance. And again, when I read Claire’s last message for her mom. I cried hard that day. Well, I think it was the first time I cried over a book.
As mysterious as it came, it disappeared somewhere during my last year of university. It might be a short read but it left a deep mark in my heart ever since the day I read the first paragraph. When I have children on my own one day, I want us to read this book together. Probably it’ll be lots of more-touching mom-daughter themed books in the future but I want this book to be the first read we have together because of the memory I had about it. Hopefully. One day.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.

Book Review: The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Get a copy here!

Okay, so this is just going to be a short review. I do this sometimes when I don’t really feel like reviewing a book but at the same time I want people to know what I feel about the book. Anyway, it’s going to be a bit hurtful but I just want to lay down several points about this book that makes this book just an okay read for me. So, be ready!
First of all no offense, but I couldn’t find a thing in this story that impress me even after I turned the last page. It’s not that this book was bloody awful or what. It’s okay but not an impressive read either. Around 29%, I truthfully thought that it would finally get interesting when Jake Gaither was mentioned. Considering the past story, I thought his appearance would make a great plot twist but it ended up to be just an insignificant fling. I personally thought that Bianca’s character was pretty likeable. I could see that lots of girls would easily relate to her (or to her sarcasm, in my case). I loved the ‘Bianca at home’ much more than the ‘Bianca at school’ or ‘Bianca outside the house’ for that matter. When she’s at home, being a daughter, the only child, and such, I saw her as this terrified girl yet always tried to overlook her fear by thinking some possible positive ends in every problem she was faced. It was natural and just how I pictured 17 years old when situated in such circumstance. But once she went out, it seemed that all those side of her completely disappeared and was replaced with this bold, ignorant, and irresponsible teenager kind. As much as I wanted to sympathize of her situation, it still just did not justify her to act like that.
As a romance book lover, I don’t think their ‘relationship’ (I wouldn’t call whatever between Bianca and Wesley a romance) was sweet or lovely. It started with a rather illogical reason on Bianca’s part and some lame teenager’s lust on Wesley’s part. In fact, I was interested more on Bianca’s family issues than their story.
As much as I wanted to give this book an even lower rating, the author managed to slip a good moral lesson through Bianca’s realization of being the Duff. Wait… Duff? What was that? Here, let me lead you to the light through Wesley’s explanation about what’s Duff. This Wesley guy thought that among a group of friends, scientists had proved that they always had a weak link, a Duff it was (the less attractive girl, I might assume, from the way he talked about it). He personally thought that the vantage of Duff’s for guys was group of girls attracted more to guys who willing to socialize with their Duffs (okay, I might put it in a wrong way or what but once I done with this paragraph, I just hated Wesley more. And cheers to Bianca’s reaction for that statement of him!). Anyway, I found the moral lesson from this book about social life was good. Duff wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, everyone believed they’re the Duff in their own circles and that’s normal.
‘I was the Duff. And that was a good thing. Because anyone who didn’t feel like the Duff must not have friends. Every girl feels unattractive sometimes. […] I should be proud to be the Duff. Proud to have great friends who in their minds, were my Duffs.’
(Chapter XXVI, The DUFF)
Lots of people saying about the movie is not as good as the book (which is such a worrisome for me since my opinion about the book was…) but I think I’ll just watch it anyway in hope the movie will change my perspective about the story. Hopefully.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.